New York City is one of the last places you might think to ride a bike. With constant traffic and hurried pedestrians walking every which way, the city at first appears to be a bike rider's worst nightmare. However, the city recently implemented a bike sharing program and has made efforts to expand the biking infrastructure with dedicated lanes to improve safety and convenience. Exploring New York City on two wheels is a clean and alternative way to see the city from a different perspective while staying active and helping to reduce traffic congestion.
Finding a Bike
New York City recently launched the Citi bike sharing program in May 2013. As a tourist, you can rent a bike for 24 hours for just $10, which includes unlimited rides of 30 minutes or less. Bike locations can be found throughout Manhattan and various parts of Brooklyn. You can check the location and availability of bikes using the smart phone app to plan your journey. Bike sharing is a great way to get around the city, but don't confuse this for a leisurely bike ride. The intention of this program is to provide an alternative form of transportation. If you keep the bike checked out for more than 30 minutes, you'll be charged an extra free. If you're looking to bike around the city for more than 30 minutes at a time then you should consider renting a bike. Bike rental is abundant in New York City but rates can be as much as $40-$60 per day.
When visiting the city on bike, you'll encounter three specific types of lanes. The first and most pleasant are the traffic-free lanes which circle the lower half of Manhattan Island. Next, you'll find either dedicated lanes which are separated from traffic or shared lanes which are marked but part of the existing road. All streets within New York City allow bike traffic, but you're best advised to find dedicated or traffic free lanes during your visit.
Rules and Tips
Both drivers and pedestrians in New York City are known for being aggressive so you need to be vigilant and aware when riding a bike. Before venturing out, get a copy of the New York City biking map. You can find this online or from most of the bike rental companies. Additional areas to consider biking are the traffic-free lanes in the Esplanade, located on the Western side of lower Manhattan, Central Park or Prospect Park in Brooklyn. Taking a ride onto the Brooklyn Bridge is a great option to see the spectacular views while taking advantage of the dedicated bike lane completely separated from the bridge traffic.
What cities have you explored on bike?